Hyde Park Art Center is Turning 80!

One of the previous locations of the Hyde Park Art Center. Photo courtesy Hyde Park Art Center

By CGN Staff and via PR

Hyde Park Art Center celebrates its 80th Birthday this month, and to collectively mark this milestone and make many supporters and artists a part of the occasion, it is holding its annual gala, as well as an after party, on Friday, November 22, co-chaired by Denise & Gary Gardner, Kate Groninger & Molly Meyer, and Julie & John Guida. The evening will be packed with food, music, dancing, and lots of art, as well as a series of interactive arts experiences for guests.

Interactive art is part of the celebration


Hyde Park Art Center was founded at the end of the Great Depression and in the beginnings of WWII, in 1939. Originally established as the Fifth Ward Art Center of Chicago, IL, the Ward became the first alternative exhibition space in Chicago. In 1940, the Ward changed its name to Hyde Park Art Center because of its close ties with the Hyde Park community. In its adolescence, the Art Center struggled to find permanence in the city, moving annually and even bi-annually in order to remain open. Raising rent prices and gentrification was changing the community of Hyde Park. Despite of its struggle, Hyde Park Art Center was received very well during the 1940s as a prime source of arts education for the community.


Over the past 80 years, the Hyde Park Art Center has burgeoned into one of the prime contemporary arts exhibition and education spaces in Chicago. The Art Center’s legacy includes launching artists’ careers, fostering new artistic movements, and providing socially adept arts education programming. The most internationally recognized artistic styles to come out of Chicago, Chicago Imagism, emerged from artists exhibiting at the Art Center during the 1960s and 1970s under the leadership of director Don Baum, who brought together the Hairy Who, the group of five artists who came out of the School of the Art Institute and first exhibited at the Art Center and later became known as part of the Chicago Imagists.

In recent years, the Art Center has continued this tradition, presenting solo exhibitions of artists including Juan Angel Chavez, Theaster Gates, and John Preus. Meanwhile, the Art Center strives to provide access to arts education to youth and adults through its education programs, many of which are free or highly subsidized and to also connect artists with supporters of all walks of life through unique collaborations such as its popular artist/patron matchmaking event, Not Just Another Pretty Face. The Art Center’s continued incubation of talented artists and art curious brings new and exciting conversations to the world of art in Chicago and beyond.


Now each year the Art Center unveils 20 exhibitions, offers 200+ studio classes, hosts artists from around the world, welcomes 45,000 visitors, and holds 200+ free events. Ongoing highlights include solo shows by emerging Chicago artists, studio classes with working and professional artists teachers and peers, youth and teen performances and exhibitions, family days, and more.

Executive Director Kate Lorenz says, “Hyde Park Art Center is humbled to be celebrating 80 years of supporting Chicago art. For the past 80 years, artists have led movements and established their careers by exhibiting work at the Art Center while also learning new skills in our school and studios. Today, artists of all ages are pushing boundaries, developing creative identities, and supporting their communities. This milestone is a celebration of our history, a call to action for the future to continue and build on this work. Happy birthday, Hyde Park Art Center!”


HPAC supporters and artists at the 2018 gala

This year for the gala the Art Center will celebrate a select Honorary Artist Committee and reflect on the positive impact Hyde Park Art Center has had on artists at all stages. The Honorary Artist Committee includes:

  • Dawoud Bey
  • Sanford Biggers
  • Sara Black
  • Juan Angel Chavez
  • Jim Duignan
  • Conrad Freiburg
  • Susan Giles
  • Michelle Grabner
  • Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford
  • Barbara Kasten
  • Anna Kunz
  • Faheem Majeed
  • Gladys Nilsson
  • Jim Nutt
  • Jefferson Pinder
  • Pooja Pittie
  • John Preus
  • Karen Reimer
  • Suellen Rocca
  • Dorian Sylvain
  • Lan Tuazon
  • Rhonda Wheatley
  • Amanda Williams
  • Julian Williams
  • Anne Wilson
  • Folayemi Wilson
  • Rodrigo Lara Zendejas

The evening will begin with a cocktail hour to be followed with the dinner program. After dinner, additional guests will arrive for the After Party. Both the cocktail hour and after party will feature interactive artist interventions by artists Hannah Barco, Cecilia Iwata, Kara Cobb Johnson, Liz McCarthy, Sadie Woods, and more. Follow Barco’s footsteps around the building to encounter surprises; search for McCarthy’s ceramic whistles hidden throughout the building; play with play-dough with Cobb Johnson or music boxes with Woods. The After Party experience also includes music, dancing, an open bar, late-night bites, and more fun to be announced.

Individuals may purchase tickets or tables online (starting at $800) but tickets to the After Party are, appropriately, $80.

More information about the gala may be found here.